Sunday, February 15, 2015

South Africa airports 'wiped off' navigation systems

Air traffic safety in South African skies has been compromised after about 70 airports were wiped off one of the world's leading satellite navigation systems, pilots say.

The airports have been delisted from Boeing's navigational services subsidiary, Jeppesen, due to administrative bungling - which the Civil Aviation Authority has denied.

The delisting means the airports, including busy regional hubs such as Nelspruit and Stellenbosch, no longer appear on most pilots' navigation systems.

As a result, pilots cannot automatically access vital information such as geographic location and runway conditions on their satellite navigation tools. Instead, they must manually enter co-ordinates for these airports, which, many say, increases the chance of error.

"The airports have disappeared off the map," said Aircraft Pilots and Owners Association president Chris Martinus in an "urgent notice to pilots" published last week on a popular aviation web forum.

Jeppesen last week issued an "urgent alert" notifying the international aviation community of the delisting due to "missing data", effective from Thursday last week.

But yesterday the CAA insisted there had been no error, saying the "missing" airports had been removed from the local database due to outdated survey data. Spokeswoman Phindi Gwebu said the authority had resolved the matter with Jeppesen, and the missing data would be restored. "This matter served before the National Airspace Committee on Thursday, and industry is satisfied that safety is indeed not compromised."

Comments on a popular web forum for pilots ranged from "This is madness!" to "CAA's actions are ... untruthful [and] seriously impair safety".

Guy Leitch, editor of SA Flyer magazine, said: "If our CAA is not able to provide basic services such as details of its own licensed airfields, then it would ... risk being downgraded. If that happened, it would impact on South Africa's ability to fly internationally."

Other affected airports include those in Mossel Bay, Krugersdorp and Empangeni.

Original article can be found at: http://www.timeslive.co.za

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